The Accident7 mins 213 7 mins 213
Little Manik was full of high spirits. He was counting the days for the festival of Diwali. He was going to have fun. He had studied hard. His father had promised that every time he got full marks for his Mathematic exercises, he would get a rupee as his reward. He had tried very hard and had collected two hundred rupees, with which he had bought crackers and fireworks for the festival. His father Dev had told him that he would burst the crackers with him. Manik was very excited and just could not wait for the event.
Manik had called all his friends for the celebration and they had assembled on the lawn, each with his bag full of fireworks. Dev was in-charge, and he was supervising the youngsters as he felt it was not safe to leave them unattended. Peals of laughter rang out as the children lighted their sparklers. The fountains looked beautiful, and the ground spinners jumped from one spot to another, making the children squeal with delight. The bombs exploded with ear-splitting sounds, but the youngsters seemed to enjoy that too. Manik, the five-year-old, was clapping his hands, watching the fountains form in a delightful array of different coloured lights. All of a sudden he gave a scream and covered his eyes with his hands.
A cracker had burst right in front of him and the sparks had got into his eyes. The little boy was in agony. He held on to his father’s hand and cried his heart out. No amount of soothing words could pacify him. Dev and Minakshi rushed him to the Eye Hospital. With the greatest difficulty, Manik allowed the Doctor to examine his eyes. But the diagnosis was far from encouraging. The Doctor called the father aside and told him that the boy had lost his vision completely because the cornea had been badly burnt in both the eyes. Dev felt as if he had been struck with a knife, the information was too hard to bear. Manik was administered tranquilisers to sedate him.
The days which followed were like a nightmare. The child was getting panic attacks, not being able to see. The intolerable pain could be controlled to some extent with medicine but the panic attacks were such that the parents felt helpless. The child could not be pacified.
Life in Dev’s family had to be reorganized under the changed situation. Minakshi could not keep her job. She had to put in her resignation. She stayed at home to be able to be with Manik all the time.
Dev got the child admitted in a Blind School so that his life did not become a burden for him. But Manik cried and resisted so much that he had to be taken out. In the end, Minakshi arranged for a teacher from the Blind School to guide her son. The child gradually came to terms with his blindness. He learnt to do everything for himself so that he did not have to depend on anybody. Minakshi also noticed that he had a very good voice and she often stood spell-bound listening to his singing from the toilet. So she appointed a teacher to teach him singing as well as the guitar so that he could entertain people by strumming on the musical chords, and singing.
Minakshi gave in his name for the contests which were held and the little boy kept the audience glued to their seats with his performance. They sang along with him, applauded him, and in no time his name was on the lips of everyone. He became their favourite star.
Manik grew up, excelling in studies, sports, music and story writing. Though he was not fortunate to see who his teacher was, who taught him with such patience and care, he had an idea that she was a young girl, very gentle and sweet-natured. Though her name was Trina, he called her Ina. From Class1 she had been teaching him, and he had become very fond of her. She used to spend hours with him, entertaining him with stories from far and near, so interesting and absorbing.
But as he got older, he noticed he began to feel differently towards her. He could not understand his feelings. Now he wanted to touch her, hold her hand and snuggle close to her. He began to feel ashamed of his feelings. Even if she absented herself for one day, he became depressed and out-of-mood. He became restless and even lost his appetite. He could not disclose his feelings to anyone, not even to his mother for it was wrong for him to have such thoughts.
Trina, his friend and teacher, had taken up a post-graduation course specializing in teaching blind children. She was kind-hearted by nature and had made up her mind to dedicate her life for those who were less fortunate than she was. She had a sweet personality which helped her to win over the Blind who were invariably angry and uncooperative because of their situation. She had just crossed twenty-seven years of her life, but she had been brought to the Dev’s household ten years back. She had been an enormous asset and had been able to bring up Manik like other normal children. He could laugh, joke and do everything for himself. He had also made up his mind that for a career, he would take up Medical Transcription. On the whole, Manik was now competent to live his life on his own. His name and fame as a singer and writer had spread, and he was a sought-after artist.
Both Trina and Manik got on like a house on fire. Their friendship grew into a firm bond and they experienced comfort and relaxation in each other’s company. It so happened that one day, as they were discussing the fall-out of Covid-19 on the economy of the state, all of a sudden Manik blurted out, "Ina, I want to tell you something, but it is very confidential. You are not to tell anyone." After saying that, he retracted into his shell, and he just changed the subject. No amount of coaxing and persuasion would help to bring out the heavy load from his chest.
On another occasion, he just broke down and started to sob like a child. Then he blurted out between his sobs, “Why have I become so wicked, Ina? Why do I always want to touch you all over, put my arms around you, and kiss till the urge inside me ebbs? I just cannot get this feeling out of me.” Trina stroked his head in a mother-like fashion and told him that it was not wickedness. As he was growing up, such feelings were normal, as God had given us these instincts. There was no other person from the opposite sex coming into close contact with him excepting Trina, therefore all his passionate emotions had fallen on her. There was nothing to feel guilty about. He would out-grow it and these feelings would wear off when he mixed around with other girls of his age. Manik smiled as if he had been relieved of a tremendous weight, but knew in his heart of hearts that he could never love any other girl than Ina.
But a strange thing happened to Trina. After Manik had disclosed to her about his feelings, she herself found that her entire attitude towards him changed dramatically. She could not look on him as a little blind child groping his way towards her and crying, but as a full-fledged adult, capable of supporting a family, and avowing his passionate love for her. His masculine body, his ways, his looks, all endeared him to her and aroused such emotions in her which were foreign to her, and she had not ever imagined, that it would be possible for one, fourteen years younger to her.
Trina knew that she and Manik would be very happy together. There would be no problem communicating, and they had come to understand each other. Manik had become a responsible young man, self-sufficient, and had reached out his hand to her in love and affection, and this is what she needed. After much thought, she concluded that if Manik and she got married, both of them would be blissfully happy.
Trina put her arms around Manik and gave him a kiss on his nose, which was something that he had not expected. He was dazed, and in utter confusion, asked, “What is happening?” Trina then wrapped him in her arms, and replied- “Manik, you and I are getting married to live happily ever after”. Manik’s response was an affectionate hug.